Five months after returning to San Francisco I took temp work in the Tenderloin, an impoverished neighborhood rampant with drugs, crime and prostitution. One day I went into a bar to use the phone. I didn't know it was a transgender bar — never even imagined such places existed — until I noticed an otherwise beautiful woman with a five o'clock shadow. Most of the girls there were at least as pretty. It both fascinated and unnerved me.
At a Rock show two weeks later I met and fell fast in love with my wife-to-be, Greta. The first time we went to bed I held my breath and tearfully told her my shameful kink. I assured her I wanted to put it all behind me, and she said she still loved me. We engaged to marry four months later. In August 1983 we moved into a one bedroom, and I started a Computer Science degree program at a junior college. I began to hope I might be Normal.
Though we made love daily, to my dismay I eventually had to crossdress. I earnestly vowed to quit, yet five months after we married my urges deluged me. Hoping to find a cure I checked out a book on gender issues, but it stated that crossdressing was harmless and incurable. Even worse was my obsession with that Tenderloin bar, the Spirit Club, and a strong urge to return there — dressed as a woman.
Finally I confessed my preoccupation to Greta, who reluctantly agreed we needed to find out the truth and helped me with my makeup. My first outing in "drag" was not only comfortable, I found it incredibly gratifying when the bartender told me I was beautiful. Drunk and adventurous I had sex with him, however it proved a complete zero for me. I wrote off the trip as a fluke. For two months I thought I'd been cured until the 1984 Exotic-Erotic Halloween ball gave me an excuse to go out again. Marriage counseling ensued.
I reread that gender book, mostly the chapters on transsexuals, amazed to see my feelings so well described. I could no longer deny I wasn't a "normal" guy and maybe not a guy at all. Soon I knew I had to leave Greta. In late May I moved to the Tenderloin, the "TL," where rent was cheap and many transwomen lived, including one T-girl I fell for until I saw she was an addict. In the TL a whole new world opened up to me, a world of transsexual women. Not until four years and much misery later would I learn the Tenderloin wasn't the only TS woman's world.